Getting to Know You: Sara from Party Perfect

Today for Birthday Week I have a special treat for you: an interview with Sara Hicks Malone, the brain behind the blog Party Perfect, and talented graphic designer. Sara agreed to answer some of my questions about modern party essentials, and where on earth she finds all the awesome parties she features on her blog.

1. Where do find inspiration for the parties you host yourself?

I will try not to give the lame 'inspiration is everywhere' answer, though in many ways, it's true.

Here's an example: The 'lucky' party we just hosted for my 33rd birthday was an idea I'd been toying with since I'd been in an accident in December of 2005. Despite the tragedy of the situation, I felt an incredible amount of gratitude for the support network I had in my life, and wanted to celebrate that in some way. I had always envisioned having a big annual 'lucky' bash thrown for friends (and not necessarily on my birthday), but it always seemed too daunting to do a huge party. I kept putting it off, but just decided this was the year to do it, on a much more modest scale. I used a horse shoe as the thread for the party, next year- maybe it will be four-leaf clovers, I don't know.

2. How do you find all these awesome parties on the web?

Many ways... 1) I follow over 70 blogs, there are many design-oriented blogs that aren't necessarily 'party' blogs, but are written by very creative people who occasionally create (or feature) unique events. 2) referrals- now that I'm a bit more established, I have a trusted list of people who tell me about great parties they've seen 3) emails- as the readership has grown, more people are sending pictures of their own parties they want to share. 4) I try to generate unique content as much as possible- showing things either I have done personally or friends (who don't blog) who have put something together. I have two contributors (Gen Goodman and Allison Abney) who share their ideas regularly.

3. With the crop of super creative kids parties lately, I wonder if there is a lot of pressure for parents to throw THE MOST AMAZING PARTY EVER. Thoughts?

Absolutely. And believe me- if you write a blog about 'perfect parties' the pressure is even more intense!

I think if parents keep the focus on the kids, however, they will find an 'amazing' party is pretty easy to execute. Kids- particularly younger ones- are very easy to please. I think it's when the parents focus too much on impressing the other adults, rather then the kids, that things can spiral out of control.

Setting a budget for any party is essential. It forces you to pick and choose what elements you really want to spend on and what things are really non-essentials. Personally, if I'm having to cut back on a party budget, the favors are the first thing to go.

4. What are three Musts for a good party for any age or any theme?

1) Must- Good Attitude I think the attitude of the host will ultimately dictate how the party goes. Things will go wrong- food might not be ready on time, a glass might get broken, the cake might fall on the floor- but it is the hosts' reaction to these things that will determine the tone of the party. You've got to just go with the flow once the guests start arriving.

2) Must- Good Guest List A bag egg-particularly at small gatherings- can really make or break a party. Invite people you know will make easy conversation and have a good time. I don't believe in 'obligatory' invites, unless you really, really are obligated.

3) I don't know that this makes for a good party, but for me- a Must these days is to make an effort to be environmentally conscious... Parties are great, but are often filled with a tremendous amount of waste. If at all possible, don't use disposable items, save or give away leftovers, recycle those cans and glass bottles.

5. What is your party pet peeve?

Party poopers. If you don't have the energy or time or good attitude to be at a party, please don't go! There's nothing worse then someone bringing their negative energy into a festive atmosphere, where others are trying to have fun. I'd much rather have a last-minute cancellation from someone then a wet blanket bringing everyone else down.

(One of the invitations over at Hicks Paper Goods!)

Thanks Sara! Readers, be sure to check out Party Perfect for more great entertaining ideas and inspiration. And if you're looking to host a bash, you MUST consider her invitations. Too cute!